In 1990 I had a letter from a music teacher in the Soviet Republic of Estonia asking me for possibilities of Suzuki teacher training. The world was changing at the time and contacts with the part of the world which at the time was known as communist Eastern Europe were opening up. The music teacher who wrote the letter was interested in training as a Suzuki teacher on her instrument and asked me whether I knew of any possibilities for her to finance such studies abroad. And, she wrote: ”…perhaps I will be the first Suzuki teacher in the Soviet Union.”
At the time I was a board member of the European Suzuki Association (ESA) and at our board meetings we discussed possibilities to meet political change in Eastern Europe, to find ways to help music teachers in Eastern Europe have access to Suzuki teacher training and for children in this part of Europe to be able to learn music according Suzuki’s Mother Tongue Method. I presented the idea that we should start a development fund separate from the ESA, with the sole purpose of supporting the development of the Suzuki Method in countries without access to such teaching and where possibilities of other financial sources were limited. My idea was positively received and the European Suzuki Teaching Development Trust was set up in 1994 initially as a simple trust and in 2002 as a Registered Charity in England.
Since its humble beginnings in 1994 the trust has been able to support the development of the Suzuki Method in many countries in Europe and Africa, primarily through the financing of Suzuki teacher training programmes in close co-operation with the European Suzuki Association and the ESA’s knowledgeable and generous Suzuki teacher trainers. The trust has granted over 90,000 Pounds Sterling to various projects from the beginning.
The trust’s income has come from many dedicated individuals and organisations. The European Suzuki Association has been a big donor to the trust and so was Mrs. Waltraud Suzuki (Shinichi Suzuki’s wife) who had made significant contribution in the early years. Many others have made contributions and the trustees are extremely grateful for their generosity and support. The trust’s work is dependent on the generosity of its donors and hopes that their help and support will continue in the future.
The music teacher who wrote to me in 1990 did not become the first Suzuki teacher in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union collapsed before any Suzuki teacher started working there. In Russia, the Baltic countries of Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania as in other Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary and Croatia as well as in South Africa and Turkey, however, many music teachers have had the opportunity to train as Suzuki instrument teachers, have started Suzuki teaching programmes and given children and parents in these countries the opportunity to develop their talent through music making, with the help of the trust. It is my sincere hope that the trust will be able to grow stronger in the future and will continue to support the development of the Suzuki Method in our part of the world.
Haukur F. Hannesson
Chairman of the Trustees of the European Suzuki Teaching Development Trust since 1994
The website of the European Suzuki Teaching Development Trust